They came by tour bus or train, they drove or walked the Freedom Trail, all converging at a single point: the USS Constitution.
For the first time in more than two years — and just in time for Labor Day holiday weekend — visitors to the Charlestown Navy Yard can tour the world’s oldest commissioned warship, or Old Ironsides, as it’s nicknamed.
With the sun shining brightly and a brisk breeze in the air, the ship opened to the public Saturday at 10 a.m., after undergoing restoration work that included the replacement of 100 hull planks and the installation of 2,200 new copper sheets. It returned to the water on July 23.
The ship will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Sept. 11, when it will close for the day. After that, hours of operation will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Autumnal hours begin in October.
A visit to the ship is free, and visitors over the age of 18 must present a valid federal or state-issued photo ID or passport to board.
Valine Mullen and Sam Alberty, a pair of history buffs from Beverly, were impressed with Old Ironsides on Saturday.
“Living in such a historical part of the country, being able to experience that firsthand is so much fun,” said Mullen, this being her first time touring the ship.
“It’s really neat,” said Alberty. “It’s fun that this is a legitimately commissioned ship still.”
Adam Davidson and Arielle Kallish, two new arrivals to Boston who arrived Friday from Michigan, called the ship “fascinating.”
“It’s very different than some of the more museum-type boats, “ Davidson said.
“It’s a really beautiful place,” said Kallish, calling the ship a “really important part of history.”
The wooden ship, which launched in 1797 and earned its nickname during the War of 1812, is manned by active-duty sailors, ready to answer questions about the modern-day Navy and its history.
Gunner’s Mate Second Class Erin Bullock, who has been with the Navy for more than two years, said the ship’s crew is looking forward to getting back to its mission: to promote the history of the ship.
“Our full mission is to preserve, promote, and protect, and we’re really excited to get back to the ‘promote’ aspect of it,” said Bullock.
Although Saturday marked the official opening of the ship, Bullock said around 5,000 people attended a “soft opening” held last weekend.
“That was at the captain’s discretion,” said Bullock. “He just decided to open the decks for the public to view.”
The USS Consitution was the first stop in Boston for Denis Garriepy and his wife, Sarah, of Beverly, who brought their two young daughters, Hana and Makena, to the ship on Saturday, as part of their family tradition of spending Labor Day weekend in the city.
“We knew it had just come out of dry dock,” said Sarah. “The kids had never been down, or been on this, and so we were excited to come check it out.”
Both parents said they had visited the ship as children, but had not returned in years. Now, bringing their children with them, Sarah said, makes the ship “even more impressive.”
“You have a greater appreciation, obviously, as an adult,” Denis said.
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